Perhaps unsurprisingly Social Media for Academics is proving much more fun to write than my PhD was….

I’m making good progress with the first chapter of Social Media for Academics. One of the main features of the book will be a focus upon reflexivity – not in any sort of theoretical way but rather on trying to help the reader walk through deliberations about how they want to use social media and what they want to get out of it. I’m confident about this approach and I think that confidence is reflected in the encouraging reactions of my editor at Sage and the reviewers who looked at the proposal. But now that I’m in the process of actually trying to flesh this out in practical terms, this strategy is proving more challenging that I’d anticipated but in a really interesting way.

So for instance I’m currently writing a chapter about ‘promoting your work online’. The basic focus of the chapter will be threefold: what tools are available, deliberating about your own use of them and the broader digital and institutional landscape within which the reader makes these decisions. I think all the ‘practice’ chapters will have this format, though obviously I’ll frame and articulate it differently for each topic. However I’m finding it trickier than I expected to articulate the goals which are continually cited throughout the text.

One of the things I really want to do is encourage people to be clear about their reasons (“why do you want to promote your work online?”) and, through elaborating their particular motivations and expectations, help make the practical decisions about platforms and processes much less complicated than they can otherwise seem. But as someone who spent much of the last 6 years writing a PhD about internal conversation I’m not entirely happy with the abstracted and artificial feel of the goals I’m writing in the text i.e. I don’t think anyone actually says to themselves “I hope to use social media to better disseminate my work to practitioners outside of the academy” (or at least I hope they don’t) but that’s what I just found myself writing. I’d like to get the feel of the goals right. I’ve talked to my editor about crowd sourcing tweets and citing them in the text (which isn’t quite as legally complicated as I’d worried but is still more complicated than I’d hoped) and I’m wondering if I should start as I mean to go on. When I talk about the ‘feel’ of the goals, this is the sort of thing I mean:

“Why do you find Twitter useful as an academic?”

37 reasons why should blog about your research

I think it can be incredibly helpful to encounter people explaining in their own terms why they have committed themselves to a sustained practice and what they have got out of it. I think this is a really important resource to develop one’s own reflexivity in relation to that practice. But I’m also aware of the risk that my inner theorist starts asserting itself too much in relation to the technologist/practitioner capacity in which I’m writing this book. I think my work on the internal conversation could offer some really helpful insights that I can include in Social Media for Academics but I need to be careful that this becomes the practical book it has always been intended to be.

Another aspect of the book I’m excited about is the opportunity to take my experiment with continuous publishing to a new level. The basic structure of the book is reproduced in the ‘social media’ tab in my menu. I’m writing the book in Scrivener but all the research and working out of ideas will be done here on my blog. I’ve been working in this way for long enough now that it’s started to feel really natural to me. I’m not really sure how it will develop over the six months or so I’ll be writing the book but I’m interested to see how the writing project shapes my subsequent engagements with social media. As well as a well defined project with an internal structure, it’s also an organising point for my own thinking and writing about social media that will be continue after I’ve submitted the book.

9 responses to “Perhaps unsurprisingly Social Media for Academics is proving much more fun to write than my PhD was….”

  1. ‘Internal conversation’ is a loaded topic, quite able to lend either depth or breadth of relevance to the practical applications in hand with your emphasis as stated here; perhaps some segue inferences to this ‘conversation’ or occasional footnote aster* to indicate leading topics for elaboration in forthcoming treatments of ‘challenges’, whether expectant or emergent with the issues in hand, say for sociologists in elaboration of their academic/publication goals/interests, formulating them in a semi-public space so as answer the communicability quotient (?), or the stimulation factor of incentive in quest of Response from perceptive audiences. (Academic recognition may be considered ancillary to other purposes more germane to values arrived at or derived from such determined experience (reflexivity?), such as this engagement (social media publication) suggests.

    What ARE the rewards of such purposiveness as an academic practice (IS social media engagement an academic practice, or if it CAN be…how, on whose terms (Jargon Jungle)), and how does one recognize or aspire and achieve such rewards, and can they be evaluated in a way that furthers academic ‘goals’ traditionally understood? Perhaps ‘academic goals’ would not be a framing platform for the kind of aspiration more central to the valued hearth of enthusiasm such ‘practice’ may, in fact, have both for the professional (define) AND bachelor intellect. Or is this a topic that the professional academic would shun, as being too ‘journalistic’, concluding it improper for reasons that their particular discipline could defend? Interesting.

    Examples of approaches among those currently engaging social media across disciplines, their respective personal or professional emphasis employed, would eventually yield data rich enough to evaluate apparent benefits, successes and ‘popularity’ of certain communication approaches. Does that ‘matter’, academically; or should it matter to any academic effort (worthy of the claim)? Oops….

    Delicious fun. Congrats!

  2. That’s *exactly* what I’m going for. It has been shunned and this is a bit silly really…

    (thanks for the term ‘jargon jungle’!)

  3. My experience in Academia has been confrontational, being not ‘with’ the basic (epistemic) premises of those disciplines I am most interested in…History (ethnographic and institutional), Philosophy (analytic and continental), Psychology (normative and positive) and Literature (mythology and rhetoric); these several of which having inherent, complimentary theoretical and methodological practices, expectations, cognitive regimen’ (investigative strategies?) And ‘rules’ of discourse. But one comment by an astute Philosophy Chair my Senior year in 99′ collapsed every expectation I had (Academically) for each of these applications of Study…for THIS student, and it holds yet today as maybe the chiefest insight of those years pacing the polished halls of campus.

    I was exploring Graduate Studies in Philosophy, as my Major in the final moments of despair, and was tending to Classical Studies as a legitimate recourse to the former, with whom the honeymoon was ending due to a certain Proof I conceived to discover in Kant’s Pure Reason and Aesthetic/Practical Judgement.

    Turns out, the philosophers’ stone I was expecting actually, literally dissolved many of the most ‘important’ problems of dialectic, barely hinting at a resolution for which there were currently several schools having divergent interests driving their interpretive orientations (framework?). Those who, to me, seemed to have it exactly right I found to be partisans still in some academic dispute now bankrupt of convincing rationale. It was precisely their academic frame in some very subtle particular that evidently undermined their whole complex justifications to the claims of Proof, the most important of which actually pass unstated between the lines of their texts, certain assumptions which were problematic at bottom. I consider this to be a principled dispute of Science itself, not under the aegis of any discipline so assumed, epistemology itself is the quintessential “flying buttress” of every intellectual cathedral.

    Anyway, this fine, respectable, sincere, eminently notable scholar said something close along the Order of the following:

    Going forward, always be careful to keep in mind and distinguish between academic and personal interests, keeping the former clear of subjective determinations, cognition and affection, that may skew your perspective, however convincing.

    My Response was almost immediate, but certainly final:

    What did you just say to me?

    Since then (99′), I’ve only just wrapped-up my MT on the realizations involved, and am STILL scratching my head in awed wonder. Cultural Criticism leads the way, Doctor. Heal thyself (?)!

  4. I’m back. Done with all the Content Demonstration, much of it Censored in the maelstrom of the last evolving Social Discourse era. I guess, luckily for me, I have WordPress to fall back upon, and renew an old friend’s conversation, or two.

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